Celtics rally, go up .500 with win over Bulls

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown sends a pass to Robert Williams III during Saturday’s game against the Chicago Bulls in Boston. Williams made four free throws in the final 31 seconds to lift Boston to a 114-112 victory. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

BOSTON — Robert Williams hit a pair of free throws with 9.7 seconds left and the Boston Celtics scored the final eight points to edge the Chicago Bulls 114-112 on Saturday night.

Williams, who tied the game at 112 with two faulty shots 31 seconds from time, finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Boston rallied after leading 112-106 with 1:57 remaining.

“It’s a moment that everyone in this league wants and expects. I’m glad I made them,” said Williams, who was shooting 66% from the foul line entering the game. “I’m happy that my teammates supported me. It boosted my confidence. »

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jaylen Brown scored 19 points and Dennis Schroder had 16 points and eight assists for Boston.

The Celtics, who lost 111-99 to Philadelphia on Friday night, won for the fourth time in five games. Coach Ime Udoka said the team appears to have learned from mistakes that cost Boston earlier in the season.

“We’ve been in a lot of tough games like this and the guys have grown,” Udoka said. “To our guys’ credit, they kinda broke down and never gave up, just kept fighting and fought their way out.”

Nikola Vucevic had 27 points for Chicago, and rookie Ayo Dosunmu scored a career-high 21 points and added 10 assists. DeMar DeRozan, who missed a buzzer shot that could have tied it, scored 23.

Chicago was coming off a 138-96 loss at home to Golden State on Friday night and lost for the fourth time in five games. The Bulls couldn’t hold off the Celtics despite numerous errors from Boston, who led 54-49 at halftime and 84-83 after a close third quarter.

“They came out and did a great job – not a great job losing a game, but we competed,” Chicago coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s always how you react. I think today we did a much better job of controlling our response.

The Celtics faltered on the stretch with several errors, including a poor pass from Tatum, a roving call to Brown and an offensive foul by Tatum. But Chicago couldn’t quite shut down the Celtics, who still had a chance after Brown hit from the corner to pull the Celtics to 112-110 with 1:06 to go.

Malcolm Hill missed a shot for Chicago and Williams fouled out the other end, tying with a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left.

DeRozan missed the hallway with 11 seconds left and Boston clawed back the rebound. Williams fouled Vucevic and went to the line with 9.7 seconds left, sinking the two to put the Celtics back in place.

HALF-WAY

The Bulls fell to 27-14 but still sit in first place in the Eastern Conference halfway through their season. Donovan said that was a bit of a surprise, considering all the turnover he had on the roster in what was a chaotic first half for all.

“We are not whole and we need to get healthy. It’s hard for me to say. It can be difficult to assess your team because you haven’t really seen your whole team play,” Donovan said. “I have a lot of confidence in the group and a lot of confidence in the group.”

ADVICE

BULLS: G Zach LaVine did not travel with the club after injuring his left knee early in Friday night’s game. An MRI on Saturday revealed no significant structural damage and LaVine will be re-evaluated early next week, the Bulls said. Although there is no timeline for his return, the Bulls said LaVine should not miss significant time. LaVine tore his ACL in the same knee while playing for Minnesota in February 2017. … The Bulls were also without G Lonzo Ball (left knee pain). G Alex Caruso has remained within COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

CELTIC: Tatum scored 13 goals in the first quarter. … G Marcus Smart (health and safety protocols) missed his third straight game. … The Celtics improved to 1-1 against Chicago this season and snapped a three-game slide against the Bulls.


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